Washington, D.C., USA

Washington, D.C., USA

This post is the second post about our trip to the States. Following on from our three nights in New York City for a wedding {read about it here}, we decided to take Bump down to Washington, D.C..

D.C. is my husband’s favourite city in the USA. He had been lucky enough to spend a chunk of his sixth form at school in Baltimore and with D.C. literally just down the road {an hour or so} he spent a fair amount of time in the capital of the US. I had always wanted to go but for one reason or another I had never been {unless you count less than ten hours at the Hilton next to the Pentagon as visiting somewhere}. Given how often we have been to NYC we decided to spend the last couple of days of our trip in D.C..

This portion of our trip was a whistle-stop sightseeing trip. There is so much to see in D.C., whilst we had the best part of three days, there is lots that we just didn’t get around to seeing. We will certainly be returning. In fact we both said that we could quite easily live in Washington, D.C. and I even found my dream house {see the pictures below}. We just have to figure out how we get ourselves into a position of needing to be there for work!

 

Flights

We decided to fly down to Washington from New York. The reason for selecting flying over the train or a car was cost. It was just so much cheaper to fly. Due to my husband’s obsession with Avios points, we had to fly American Airlines. They are part of the oneworld alliance with British Airways which meant that we could pick up some Avios points for our flight.

The flights were easy enough to find. There is an afternoon flight from John F. Kennedy Airport down to Ronald Reagan National Airport in D.C.. The best bit is that for some reason American Airlines were flying a ‘three class’ plane on a route where only two classes (first and economy) were for sale. We both have silver status with British Airways which meant that we could select the lie flat business class seats for the flight for free despite paying for an economy ticket. There was certainly something novel about switching the seat into a bed for the 55 minute hop down to DC!

Reagan Airport is an interesting place. It is located in Virginia, just across the Potomac River from the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument etc. It is also right beside the Pentagon. The runway is short. Very short. The White House also lies right under the flight path, of course, in recent years, for obvious reasons, commercial airplanes flying over the White House are a big no, no. As such, the approach into Reagan is rather hairy as you do a lot of, what seem like, low-level twists and turns to avoid the White House.

I am giving you this background because 2 years ago we flew out of Reagan {it wasn’t planned but basically we had a canceled flight in the US and were re-routed via Reagan} and the take off was one of the scariest I have experienced. Of course, I forgot all of this until we were about thirty seconds from touch down at Reagan. Our flight down from NY had been very bumpy {due to remnants of Hurricane Harvey}, we then started doing the usual low-level turns and I began to freak out! Thanks to the short runway, the crosswinds and bad weather, our touchdown was hard and we were thrust forward in our seats as the captain slowed the plane on the short runway. Put it this way, next time I fly into Reagan, I will not forget what it is like!

Here are a couple of pictures from our flight down to Washington, D.C.:

Bump clearly not fussed by this flying lark. Catching some zzz’s in the departure lounge.

Legroom in economy!

 

Now standard Bump and I shot. Bump once again asleep just after takeoff.

Hotels

We had three nights in D.C., so we did what any normal people do, and booked into two different hotels! I kid you not. Sometimes my husband’s obsession with trying out different hotels and earning points gets a bit too much.

The Willard Intercontinental

The first two nights we stayed at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. The hotel is one of the oldest in Washington. It has been central to US history. It is where Lincoln lived in the days before he became President and is where Martin Luther King Jr wrote his famous “I have a dream” speech. The location was great, a stones throw from the White House. If I am being brutally honest, the hotel is showing its age. Previously white light switches are now stained a dark yellow. The hotel also had a bit of a fetish for dark wood furniture which did nothing to help its cause.

The reason for staying at the Willard was that we are members of the Intercontinental Ambassador club. For £150 a year we pay to belong to this club. This is another points earning trick. So we pay £150 a year, as a result of that we get a voucher each year for a free weekend night stay. The cost of a weekend night stay is over £150 meaning you can write off the cost of membership. The only catch is that you must stay two nights to use the voucher. There are also other benefits:

  1. One-level room upgrade;
  2. 4pm check-out  {this is a huge benefit when flying on an overnight flight back to the UK}
  3. a free pay-TV movie per stay, every stay
  4. Free fruit and mineral water in your room {in my view bottled water should be free to all hotel guests}; and
  5. a welcome gift {we got chocolates}.

So we paid £200 in total for two nights stay. We received an upgrade to a suite. The suite was so huge that it had a dining table for six, a desk, two sofas and two bathrooms {yes two showers}. My husband looked up the cost of a two night stay for the room we received and it would have been over £750.

Park Hyatt Washington, D.C.

For our final night we left the Willard and moved to Georgetown and checked into the Park Hyatt Washington, D.C.. WOW! This hotel was right up my street. It was minimalist without being cold, the service was amazing and this will sound odd, but the smell of the hotel was amazing! The lift even had a couch in it for you to sit on! This was, without a doubt, the best hotel I have ever stayed in. The photos below don’t do it justice.

We booked the Park Hyatt using Emyr at Bon Vivant again. As a result we got another upgrade to a suite, free breakfast in the Michelin starred restaurant, Blue Duck Tavern {which apparently is one of Obama’s favourite restaurant in D.C.}, and $100 spending credit {which we spent on a meal at the Blue Duck Tavern}.

Here are some pictures of both hotels:

 

Flowers

Beautiful flowers in the lobby of The Willard Intercontinental Hotel

Suite 1

Suite at The Willard Intercontinental Hotel

Suite 2

Dining table at The Willard Intercontinental Hotel

View

View from our room at The Willard Intercontinental Hotel

Panda

Bump’s second teddy of the trip! Mr Panda

Lounge at the Park Hyatt

bed

Bedroom at the Park Hyatt

Bathroom at the Park Hyatt

Our days in Washington, D.C.

This is the part of our trip that we became real tourists. Day one was spent looking at the major sites. It was scorching and, with hindsight, we probably weren’t geared up to Bump being subjected to such temperatures. He clearly wasn’t enjoying it as he had a meltdown on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

My lasting memory of the day will probably be me sat outside the Martin Luther King Memorial bookshop, beside a main road, with my right boob hanging out, sweat pouring down my face trying to get Bump to latch. Somehow, and I am still not quite sure, we managed to get Bump settled.

We visited the White House, Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool {Forest Gump fame}, World War 2 Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial and the Korean War Memorial {which was unbelievably moving}. As I said we crammed a lot into the first morning. Lunch and the early afternoon was spent out at Eastern Market wandering around the Flea Market.

Our second day, which was Labor Day, was spent walking around the US Capitol {which is absolutely stunning}, a couple of hours in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum followed by shopping in Georgetown.

On our final we wandered the back streets of Georgetown before leaving for the airport. We also managed a meal at The Blue Duck Tavern, the Michelin stared restaurant in our hotel.

I loved Washington. It was a great city. I really want to return as there is so much more I want to see {Arlington Cemetery, the Holocaust Museum, the African American History museum, the National History museum the list goes on}. After the hustle and bustle, overcrowded, loud and, often claustrophobic, streets of New York City, Washington was a joy. Very European in its feel. It also will be a great place to take Bump when he is older. The Smithsonian museums look amazing.

 

 

Flags

Flags around the Washington Monument

JFK House

The house that John F Kennedy lived in before he became President

Georgetown dream

My dream house in Georgetown

I will be finishing off this mini series on our trip to the USA in the next couple of days. As I mentioned in the NYC post, I will be posting my top five tips for traveling long haul with a newborn. I will then be telling you about our next trip with Bump which we have planned for the start of next month.

Do drop me a line if you would like to know more about Washington, D.C., for details on the Ambassador Club or with any questions you may have about our luxury travel on a budget experience!

Penny x

 

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